Pakistan joined the US, Russia and China over the weekend to craft a peace agreement with the Taliban, a development that shows how Islamabad has moved to the centerstage of the Afghan peace process, and how India has been dealt out of the future of Afghanistan.
On July 12, the four countries met in Beijing to issue a four-party joint statement on the Afghan peace process.
The statement read: “welcomed recent positive progress as the crucial parties concerned have advanced their talks and increased contacts with each other. All sides also welcomed intra-Afghan meetings held in Moscow and Doha. The four sides encouraged all parties to take steps to reduce violence leading to a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire that starts with intra-Afghan negotiations.”
“China, Russia, and the United States welcomed Pakistan joining the consultation and believe that Pakistan can play an important role in facilitating peace in Afghanistan,” said the joint statement.
Briefing reporters about the meeting on Monday , Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said “we have reached some consensus and exchanged views on the current situation in Afghanistan and our effort to help to restore peace and security”.
The Doha agreement of July 7-8 between the US and Taliban includes the agreements reached in Moscow, thereby taking care of Russia’s interests.
“India’s 18-year-old effort to strengthen ties with Afghanistan should not be lost at this juncture. India’s indifference to the evolving situation in Afghanistan will likely cost it in the long run,” said Shaida Abdali, former Afghan ambassador to India and a presidential candidate.
Meanwhile the US ambassador to Afghanistan, John Bass recently said that Afghanistan’s presidential elections, scheduled for September 28, could be postponed, until the peace process with the Taliban was completed.